in , ,

Laverne & Shirley Cast Deaths You Didn’t Know About

Most in the television audience will likely associate the hit 1970s sitcom Laverne & Shirley with nothing but good times and laughter. The show was one of the most successful comedies of it’s time. It has maintained an large legacy due to it’s sharp wit, as well as it’s revolutionary brand of women-owned comedy. However, as with any classic sitcom, many of the stars that helped make the show a success are no longer with us today. Join Facts Verse as we explore Laverne & Shirley cast deaths you didn’t know about.

The first Laverne & Shirley cast member that we’ll be discussing is Laverne herself. Actress Penny Marshall, who was also the sister of Happy Days star Garry Marshall, played the character of Laverne. Of course, it was Garry who ended up getting his sister the role of Laverne on Happy Days. The characters of Laverne and Shirley were originally supposed to be one-off characters meant to accompany characters Richie and Fonzie on a double date. Few could’ve predicted how popular the characters were to become, eventually being given their classic spin-off.

After Laverne & Shirley came to an end, Penny continued acting sporadically in both film and television. She could be seen in the 1993 supernatural Disney comedy Hocus Pocus, and also leant her celebrity as one of the first notable guest stars on the television program The Simpsons in 1990. However, Penny’s true legacy post-Laverne & Shirley proved to be her work behind the scenes in Hollywood.

Many casual audience members may not realize that Penny became an incredibly successful director later in her career. Penny was responsible for numerous blockbuster hits, including the Tom Hanks comedy film Big, and the female-centric baseball comedy A League of Their Own. In the latter film, Penny got to direct an all-star female cast that included Madonna, Geena Davis, Lori Petty, and Rose O’Donnell. While Laverne & Shirley broke new ground when it came to women on comedic television, A League of Their Own broke new ground when it came to women in comedic film.

Some of Penny’s later roles included a guest starring role on the Nickelodeon sitcom Sam & Cat alongside Cindy Williams, aka Shirley. Penny also appeared in an episode of 2015’s The Odd Couple television program starring Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon. Garry Marshall was an executive consultant on the latter program, and the episode Penny guest starred in was a tribute to him. Garry passed away on July 19, 2016 of pneumonia after suffering a stroke. He was 81 years old. Penny passed only a few years later.

In her later years, Penny was diagnosed with lung cancer. Although she managed to overcome the battle, it was too late. The cancer had metastasized to her brain, and the actress passed away on December 17, 2018. At the time of her death, she was 75 years old. The official cause of death was heart failure, though the cancer certainly didn’t help.

The next Laverne & Shirley star we’ll be taking a look at is David L. Lander. David was known for playing the character of Squiggy, who formed a comedic partnership on the show with Michael McKean’s character of Lenny. Lenny and Squiggy weren’t characters that were created for Laverne & Shirley, but were actually characters that David and Michael had been developing via improv for many years prior to being hired as writers on the show. While working on the first episode, they were encouraged to write their characters into the script. Thus, Lenny and Squiggy were introduced to television during Laverne & Shirley’s premiere.

While Michael McKean is arguably the one that went on to achieve more mainstream notoriety post-Laverne & Shirley, David never struggled for work. He was a popular voiceover actor, perhaps most notably being tasked with playing one of the weasel henchmen of Christopher Lloyd’s Judge Doom in the hit 1988 comedy film Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

In 1984, David was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. For those that don’t know, multiple sclerosis is a degenerative disease that there is no cure for. While David managed to live a long and successful life with multiple sclerosis, it eventually killed him. His last role was a voice in the 2017 Disney Junior cartoon Goldie & Bear. On December 4, 2020, David finally lost his 36-year long fight with multiple sclerosis.

Now let’s take a look a Betty Garrett. Betty played the character of Edna on Laverne & Shirley, a feisty landlady that was introduced during the show’s second season. Quickly, Edna became a fan favorite. Over the course of the next few seasons, she was given an increased presence due to her likable personality and unique comic timing.

A miscommunication with the producers caused Betty to take another job after Laverne and Shirley’s sixth season, which she was lead to believe was going to be the show’s last. The character of Edna was then written off of the show for the final two seasons. However, both Betty and her character still make up a large part of Laverne & Shirley’s legacy.

Unlike many of the show’s other stars, Betty had already had an incredibly successful career long before Laverne & Shirley. In the year 1949, she was in the MGM musical films Take Me Out to the Ball Game and On the Town. Soon after these films came out, she became a victim of Hollywood blacklisting due to her association with the Communist Party USA. Thankfully, she was eventually able to overcome this blacklisting, being granted a role on the 1973 sitcom All in the Family. From there, it was only a short period of time before she was cast in Laverne & Shirley, and the rest is history! Betty died on February 12, 2011, at the age of 91. Her cause of death was said to be an aortic aneurysm.

If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! As well, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!

The next deceased Laverne & Shirley star we’ll be taking a look at is Phil Foster. Phil played the role of Laverne’s father, and his neurotic nature provided much of the show’s comedy over the course of it’s eight seasons. Phil had made a name for himself as a stand-up comedian long before being cast on Laverne & Shirley. One of Phil’s gag writers during his early career was a young Garry Marshall. The two maintained a close friendship over the years, with Garry eventually getting Phil a job on his sister’s show.

In addition to performing on Laverne & Shirley, Phil also wrote two scripts for the program. As well, he continued performing stand-up comedy both during and after his time on the hit show. He eventually died of a heart attack on July 8, 1985. At the time of his death, he was 72.

Cindy Williams, who played the character of Shirley, is still alive today. When Peggy Marshall died, Cindy had plenty of kind words to share about her former co-star and comedic partner. However, things weren’t always great for the pair. In fact, their days on Laverne & Shirley ended in a feud that lasted until just years before Peggy’s death.

Cindy always felt that Peggy got the most attention out of the two. This caused plenty of turmoil on the set, and even led to Cindy walking off during filming on at least one occasion. Cindy memorably left the show during it’s final season, causing Peggy to try and keep the show afloat by herself. Cindy was pregnant at the time, and there were also other reasons that she ended up leaving, including the producers of the show not being very open-minded about maternity leave. According to Cindy, she was expected to show up for filming on her due date. She decided that it wasn’t going to be worth it, and that proved the final nail in the coffin for her time on the successful sitcom. Unsurprisingly, audiences weren’t keen on watching a Laverne & Shirley with no Shirley in it. The show was cancelled due to declining ratings, and was officially off the air by the end of 1983.

Cindy and Peggy eventually made up, appearing together on the aforementioned episode of the Nickelodeon sitcom Sam & Cat just years before Peggy’s death. Whereas Peggy become a big figure in Hollywood after Laverne & Shirley, Cindy has chosen to lead a much more humble life. She has appeared in a few television and film roles over the years, and also wrote a memoir in 2015 detailing her life and her career in Hollywood. The memoir was called Shirley, I Jest! and was released to a great deal of public interest.

Laverne & Shirley aired for eight seasons, including the final season with just Laverne and no Shirley. The show has maintained a steady fan base over the years, and has recently found a new fan base in the form of the LGBT demographic. The show found new life on the Logo TV network, a network dedicated to showcasing LGBT content.

Although the characters of Shirley and Laverne weren’t a lesbian couple, their domestic partnership and strong wills have understandably managed to strike a chord with the lesbian demographic. Perhaps Cindy will pull a J. K. Rowling one day and reveal that Shirley and Laverne were actually a closeted couple this whole time! That revelation could certainly add some new context to Lenny and Squiggy’s constant failure to seduce the duo over the course of the show’s run. In the meantime, fans are free to speculate!

Laverne & Shirley aired for eight seasons, yielding 178 episodes. Comment down below to share which of these episodes is your favorite, or if you have any fond memories about the final season that saw Peggy’s Laverne try to hold the attention of the audience all by herself. As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are coming your way!

Old Hollywood Deaths That Were Never Solved

Tragic Details About Tom Hanks We’ve Ignored for Too Long